Thanks so much for visiting HipWriterMama, my blog about children's books, authors and readergirlz!

It's time for a change. I've decided to focus my attention on my writing blog, www.vivianleemahoney.com. Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shining the Light on SPILLING INK by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter

Have you had a chance to read SPILLING INK: A Young Writer's Handbook by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter? If you haven't, you must check it out. It's a great resource for the young writer, a middle school teacher to use in a classroom setting, and I'll admit, even an older person (ahem) like me. Note: Thank you, MacMillan Children's Publishing Group for sending me a copy.

But, have no fear. This is NOT a boring writing manual. How could it be when the creative minds behind OLIVIA KIDNEY and ABBY HAYES are at work? No way. Kids are going to enjoy learning how to write when they read SPILLING INK.

The book cover and illustrations pop (thanks to illustrator Matt Phelan). Add in Anne's and Ellen's catchy titles, entertaining chapters, and I DARE YOU writing exercises, and you've got a great book young writers will want to use, over and over again. Anne and Ellen encourage their readers, offering them easy to understand examples and helpful tips. First drafts, voice, characters, plot, dialogue, writer's block, and even revisions won't seem impossible to handle. And that is HUGE.

Without further ado, I'm so pleased to welcome Anne and Ellen as guest bloggers today. I asked them to write about things to consider when working with someone else on a project and they put together this Q&A in a similar style of the book. Enjoy!

Q & A with Spilling Ink Authors Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter

Questions for Anne Mazer

What made you most nervous about collaborating at the beginning?
Anne: Creative collaborations are my idea of heaven on earth. What could be more fun than brainstorming, thinking up ideas, tossing concepts around with another person? (Well, that’s my idea of fun, anyway.) So I was really pleased about collaborating with Ellen, whose writing I admired. If I was nervous about anything, it was about whether this collaboration would work. I half-expected it to fall apart. Ellen and I barely knew each other. It was quite likely that we’d get on each other’s nerves, or one of us would feel committed and the other wouldn’t, or else we’d have a disagreement and the whole project would collapse. Then, every time I saw one of Ellen’s books in a bookstore, I’d get a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach and would have to leave fast.

I had NO clue that I was embarking on a fabulous, life-changing writing partnership that was, by the way, one of the better experiences of my life.

Do you have any tips for potential collaborators on how to give each other feedback?
Anne: First of all, you need to be honest about what you like and dislike. If you can’t communicate openly, then your collaboration will fail.

Sometimes either Ellen or I saw things that weren’t in the spirit of our project – those were really important to point out. Our discussions about what didn’t work helped us to refine our vision and ultimately enriched the book.

It’s also very important to deliver your critique with respect and kindness. If you have a genuine liking and admiration for your collaborator, giving positive feedback comes naturally. Hint: If you don’t like or respect your collaborator, run for the hills!

One of the advantages of working with a collaborator is that you can help each other become better writers. I learned so much from Ellen – not only from her feedback, but also from working closely with her.

P.S. For specific ways to give feedback, see our “How To Give Fabulous Feedback” mini poster at our Spilling Ink Website http://www.spillinginkthebook.com/teachers-kit/

How did you decide who did which sections?
Anne: There was no master plan, no outline, and no strict division of labor. What Ellen and I did was think up all the questions that a young writer might want answered, and all the tips and wisdom about writing that we wanted to impart. This didn’t happen all at once; we did it throughout the course of the book, so that even when we thought the book was done, we were still adding new sections. To decide who wrote what, we just waved our hand, and said, “I want it!” Very strangely, we never had any conflict. The topics that gave me stomach cramps appealed to Ellen and vice versa.

Both of us had major things to say about plot and character, but I especially liked talking about “Writer’s Brain,” the psychological aspects of writing, while Ellen was brilliant on the nitty-gritty of “Craft.”

How has the collaboration changed your relationship with each other?
Anne: Ellen used to be a person who I admired and liked, but didn’t really know. Now she’s one of my closest friends and one of the most important people in my life. I am so used to communicating with her every day that if I don’t see her name light up my mailbox every morning (I’ve highlighted her emails with a my favorite color of yellow-orange), I feel bereft. It all adds up to a teensy Ellen Potter addiction.

Anne’s web site is http://www.annemazerbooks.com/

Questions for Ellen Potter

What was the most surprising thing to you about collaborating with another writer?
Ellen: The fact that it was possible. I never imagined I could write a book with someone else. I mean, how does one DO that?

Still, when Anne suggested that we write a fun and practical writing book for kids, I didn’t think twice about saying Yes. For one thing, I know a great idea when I hear it. But more importantly, I know a great writing partner when I meet her.

The biggest surprise, though, was that collaborating was immensely enjoyable. When I write solo, the process feels a lot like being in the violent throes of first love. There are hallucinogenic highs and rotten lows. By the time I finish a novel I am emotionally kaput.

When I collaborated with Anne, though, the writing process felt more like a very stable yet dynamic marriage. There was no drama. No angst. We helped each other through the rough patches and cheered each time we successfully finished a chapter. It was without a doubt the most fun I ever had writing a book.

Did collaboration with Anne bring you any new insights about writing?
Ellen: I learned something every time she sent me a new section. In fact, I was writing a novel at the same time we were working on Spilling Ink, and when I was having a problem with some writing issue—like writer’s block or finding ideas—I’d request that she write a section about it. What a luxury!

Also, she pointed out my overuse of the word really. She was right. Really, really right.

How do you and Anne work together? Did you find your way all at once, or did your partnership evolve?
Ellen: I could tell you some hair-raising stories of nasty arguments and bruised egos . . . but they’d all be lies to make this blog post a little splashier. In reality, the collaboration was silky smooth from beginning to end.

Still, I am a pretty stubborn person. At first, when Anne sent back her critiques of my chapters, a little voice in my head would occasionally grumble, “Hmph! I think it’s fine the way it is.” But once I got over myself, I found that Anne was generally right. She is a perceptive yet diplomatic editor. After a while, I changed my baseline: Instead of assuming I knew better, I assumed that she did.

As our partnership evolved, so did our friendship. Even though the book is finished we still talk almost every day. We’re itching to collaborate again, but we’re going to wait until the next perfect idea flags us down.

What qualities do you think are necessary for a successful collaboration?
Ellen: I think it all boils down to the same qualities that are necessary for a successful marriage:
1. You have to trust that the other person is watching your back.
2. You have to be genuinely gobsmacked by each other’s wonderfulness.

Take a peek at the Spilling Ink web site, which features a Creativity Blog, downloads for teachers and kids, and book giveaways http://www.spillinginkthebook.com/

Ellen’s web site is http://www.ellenpotter.com/

Monday, April 26, 2010

Shining the Light on THE WRITING & CRITIQUE GROUP SURVIVAL GUIDE by Becky Levine AND a Giveaway!!

I am so happy to have Becky Levine here today as my guest hostess. Becky offers great insight on the writing process. Did you know she wrote a book about the critique process? Enter THE WRITING & CRITIQUE GROUP SURVIVAL GUIDE: How to Give and Receive Feedback, Self-Edit, and Make Revisions. If you're looking for a book to help you get your writing to the next level, this is a GREAT choice. (In the interest of self-disclosure, I won Becky's book on the fabulous Shrinking Violet Promotions blog. Thank you to The Shrinking Violets and Becky! I should also mention, Becky is a friend and invaluable critiquer. I'm here to tell you, Becky talks the talk AND she walks the walk. Becky KNOWS critiques.)

THE WRITING & CRITIQUE GROUP SURVIVAL GUIDE is easy to read and filled with good examples. I'm telling you, this book will help you get more out of the critique process so you can improve your writing. This will get you beyond the fear of critiques to structuring and working on your entire manuscript--we're talking about plot, dialogue, pacing, setting, voice, POV--through the details and the big picture. Whether you're thinking of joining a critique group or have experience, you will find something that will get you thinking, developing your internal editor, and finish revisions. And isn't that what we want to do?

Becky was kind enough to offer a copy for a giveaway on my blog. Details below!

I bet you'd like to read Becky's post now, wouldn't you? Please welcome Becky Levine!

What You Can Do for Your Critique Partners
When Vivian invited me to guest-blog at HipWriterMama, I knew right away that I wanted to write a post that would fit here. Vivian’s posts are continuously supportive and encouraging, and—since I believe that’s also true of the best critique groups—I decided that’s what I’d focus on today.


Support in a critique group might seem obvious. Yes, it’s about listening to each other whine discuss the latest problems in our manuscripts. Yes, it’s about leaning on each other when we get rejection letters. Yes, it’s about calling up our local bookstores and libraries and making sure they have our critique partner’s books on the shelves.

It’s about a lot of other things, too, though. And sometimes, we all need a little reminder about what those things are.

You are supporting your critique partner when you:
  • Take the time and energy to give detailed feedback about their project. Give them a clear explanation, point to examples in their manuscript, and make suggestions about specific changes they might want to make.
  • Don’t ignore that bland dialog or inconsistent characterization that is bothering you. It’s bothering them, too, believe me. They just don’t know what to do about it yet.
  • Help them brainstorm through a plot problem or two. Schedule time to bounce ideas back & forth about their hero’s character development.
  • Read multiple revisions of their manuscript. Who’s going to get it all right the first time through? Or the second?
  • Say “yes,” when they ask if you can read longer chunks of their book, even the full manuscript. Work out with them and the rest of the group how much time everyone will need, then schedule it out. When you read more pages at a time, you can provide a stronger critique in terms of consistency, plot tension, and character change.
  • Make your commitment to critiquing their work strong and steady. Put critiquing time on your calendar, put aside dedicated time for reading and thinking, and deliver your critiques on time and with as much clarity as possible.
Does all this sounds like a lot? It is. Take another look at the list, though, and switch around some pronouns. Put your critique partner in the place of the one doing the work, and drop yourself into the recipient’s chair. Look at everything you’re getting back.

This is the strength of a strong, supportive group. Everything you put into the group, every minute of critiquing you do, comes back full circle to help you. Not simply because your critique partners are doing the same for you, but because that commitment and energy build something powerful, something that lets us grow our writing community and our writing craft.

Becky Levine is the author of The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide: How to Give and Receive Feedback, Self-Edit, and Make Revisions. Becky has participated in her own critique groups for fifteen years and has ten years experience as a freelance manuscript editor. She writes fiction and nonfiction for children and teens, as well as freelance articles and book reviews. Becky’s online class Mastering the Art of Group and Self-Critiquing starts at the new Writer’s Digest University on May 6, 2010. [HWM Note: There's still time to register for this six-week class!]

Becky was kind to offer one copy of her book for a Giveaway! If you'd like to be considered, comment away on what you find discouraging, fun, irritating, thought-provoking, etc. about the critique process. Please let me know if you sign up for Becky's class--I'll give you two entries! Deadline will be Friday, April 30th at 11pm EST. Comment away!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shining the Light on THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS

Hope all of you had a nice weekend! It's been busy in my neck of the woods with lots of decluttering, cleaning, and writing. The kids finally have spring vacation and there's little chance I'll be allowed to do anything productive this week. The girls are determined to have interesting adventures to talk about in school--especially since "all" of their friends are jet-setting to Mexico, Aruba, Bermuda and Disney. And, we're not. But, I think they'll be pleased with our activities. *crosses fingers* Spy Girl checks out my blog, so I can't divulge any information...yet.

The one thing I can share today is my guest bloggers! I'm pleased to welcome THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS -- P.J. Hoover (one of my wonderful critique buddies), Jo Whittemore, and Jessica Lee Anderson -- as my guest bloggers today. I asked them for some writing tips and they delivered! Use these tips well, my friends.

Yay for The Texas Sweethearts! Here's a blurb from their website:
We're from the awesome state of Texas—Austin to be exact.
(For you non-Texans, that's the nice, shiny star in the center of the state.)
We're entertaining, engaging, and we want to make a difference.
We love talking to kids, teens, adults, librarians, teachers, and writers. Actually, we love talking to anyone who will listen. There's nothing like seeing the joy in the face of a child discovering a love of reading.
Our books target all ages, and our dreams go beyond the realm of imagination. We'd love to come share our experiences and creativity with your group!
Writing for Kids from the Heart of Texas...
P. J. Hoover:
First off, Vivian, thank you so much for letting The Texas Sweethearts guest post on your blog. Ever since I started blogging a few years back, I was in awe of the amazing HipWriterMama. She (you) was like this famous blogger [HWM: *snort* too kind], yet you made me feel so welcome to the kidlitosphere. And for that I will always be grateful!

So, my name is P. J. Hoover, and I write middle grade and YA fantasy. I have two books of a MG trilogy out so far. The first book, THE EMERALD TABLET, came out in 2008, and the second, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, came out in 2009. I’m totally looking forward to the third and final book in the series, THE NECROPOLIS, which comes out fall 2010. The books are aimed at the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson crowd and feature a boy named Benjamin Holt who finds out he’s from a continent hidden under the Pacific Ocean and he’s not even human. To top that off, he has to save the world.

If there’s one thing I learned while writing the trilogy, it’s to take as much time between your revisions as you possibly can. I was fortunate in that I wrote the entire trilogy before the first book came out, so I had plenty of time to let the manuscripts sit. For both NAVEL and NECROPOLIS, there was one point when I waited a year between revisions for each. Coming back to a novel after a year gives the most fresh, objective look at it one can possibly imagine. It’s like the things that need to be cut stand out in bold capital letters whether they are characters or plot lines or even the actual starting point of the novel. So, though waiting is painful at times, waiting is also our friend in revisions.

Jo Whittemore:
Hey guys! I’m Jo Whittemore, and my newest book, Front Page Face-Off, just came out March 9. It’s a change from my favorite genre (fantasy), as FPFO is a contemporary middle grade. In the story, twelve-year-old Delilah James goes from being star reporter for the school paper to second best after a rival journalist swoops in and steals her glory (and potential boyfriend). In order for Delilah to get what she wants, hilarious mayhem must ensue, and such silliness is what drove me to write this story in the first place.

Back in the day, I was all set to write another fantasy novel while my agent was shopping a demon story I’d written. The only problem was, I was stuck in a rut:

Me: How about if I write a demon book?
Agent: You just wrote a demon book.
Me: Yes, but in this one, the demon wears a hat!

Okay, so I didn’t REALLY mention a hat, but my agent had a point. She then went on to suggest that I try to write something contemporary, since I had a good sense of humor and grasp of my characters. I scoffed at first (“Fantasy is my life! I won’t betray the unicorns!”) but then I decided to give it a shot.

And you know what? She was right. I had so much fun writing contemporary and letting the jokes fly. Because cracking wise is what I do in real life. When things get tough, I spew one-liners like machine gun bullets. When people feel glum, I’m always there with a poop joke.

So my advice is to play to your strengths and always strive to write just like YOU. Your unique voice is what will win audiences over, not your imitation of someone else’s.

Jessica Lee Anderson:
PJ and Jo, what you both said resonates with me as I can be impatient when it comes to revising, and I strive to find my voice and play on my strengths. Howdy! I’m Jessica Lee Anderson, and my newest novel is Border Crossing, a story about a bi-racial teen named Manz who is on the border physically and mentally. He’s not sure who he can trust including himself as he’s schizophrenic. Border Crossing is a departure from my first novel, Trudy (2005 Milkweed Prize for Children's Literature winner), about a girl who must accept her father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. I spent a great deal of time developing and tweaking the characters in Border Crossing (about four years). The biggest challenge was to make sure Manz came across as believable, especially the way he perceives things psychologically. I spent a great deal of time researching schizophrenia so I could better understand him. Given my limited experiences as an Anglo female, I brought several readers on board to make sure he came across as authentic. Also, in the many drafts of this story, I worked on strengthening the secondary characters so they would seem more three-dimensional. Characters need to be as real as possible to the reader as well as to the writer.

Thanks again for letting us stop by!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rock the Drop with readergirlz!!

A quick reminder--tomorrow, April 15th, is the day of Operation Teen Book Drop! This is the third year rgz has helped lead the effort. We'll be delivering 10,000 new books to teens on Native reservations and tribal lands. Many thanks to our partners at GuysLitWire, YALSA and If I Can Read I Can Do Anything!

Help us promote reading and Rock the Drop! If you'd like to participate, just leave a book in a public space for some lucky reader to find. It's that easy. Grab an official bookplate and extras here. If you'd like to send photos of your Rock the Drop location, forward them to readergirlz AT gmail DOT com for a post-drop roundup. Here's last year's roundup.

You may also purchase books from the Guys Lit Wire TBD Wish List which will go directly to two reservation school libraries--Ojo Encino Day School and Alchesay High School.

Please join us in the online TBD Post-Op party at 6 PM PST / 9 PM EST tomorrow at the readergirlz blog.

Let's Rock the Drop! Thanks, everyone!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The BAMBOO PEOPLE ARC Tour Announcement

Thank you to all who entered for a chance to go on the BAMBOO PEOPLE ARC Tour! I'm so sorry for the delay in announcing the details--I've been occupied with getting financial records in order for my accountant and haven't pulled an all-nighter since college.

But, I finished!

And, I paid a price. Yesterday, I walked around like a Zombie and it wasn't pretty. My Public Service Announcement for today...Believe it or not April 15th comes around every year, so keep your paperwork organized. Otherwise, you're going to procrastinate and it will only cause pain. One more thing, all-nighters are not recommended when you're my age. That is all.

And now for details on the BAMBOO PEOPLE ARC Tour! I wish I could send all of you on the tour, but only have room for five. But, if this works out, there may be another ARC tour in the future, so please keep checking back.

Here are the names of people I picked out of my fabulous red bowl...
A. Fortis
Christine Marciniak

I'll map out the tour route and mail out the BAMBOO PEOPLE ARC to the first person on the list. Just think of me as Julie the Cruise Director and I'll keep you all on track during the tour.
  • Each person gets the ARC for 2 weeks.
  • READ the ARC and POST a review on your blog.
  • WRITE a message for Mitali in the ARC.
  • MAIL it to the next person. I'll e-mail you the address. It should cost less than $5.00 to mail to the next person.
This will be fun! Please e-mail your snail mail address to hipwritermama @ comcast dot net. Thank you for participating!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Shining the Light on Borrowed Names by Jeannine Atkins

It's my pleasure to welcome Jeannine Atkins this morning. If you've spent any time on Jeannine's blog, you'd know how gifted she is as a writer and poet. She's also the essence of kindness and calm. Jeannine's posts are refreshing and heartwarming--perfect antidotes for crazed days.
It's only fitting that Jeannine's new book, BORROWED NAMES: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie and their Daughters, offers strength and power in a love story of mothers and daughters.
As a child, Laura Ingalls Wilder traveled across the prairie in a covered wagon. Her daughter, Rose, thought those stories might make a good book, and the two created the beloved Little House series. Sara Breedlove, the daughter of former slaves, wanted everything to be different for her own daughter, A’Lelia. Together they built a million-dollar beauty empire for women of color. Marie Curie became the first person in history to win two Nobel prizes in science. Inspired by her mother, Irène too became a scientist and Nobel prize winner.

BORROWED NAMES is the story of these extraordinary mothers and daughters.
Can you imagine having the ability to create a story that ties in such seemingly different women? Here are a couple wonderful reviews:

“The images created bring powerful emotions to the surface, felt by the women profiled here and by those who read this gem that belongs in any literary cedar chest, as well as in every collection.” -- School Library Journal, Starred Review

“In vivid scenes written with keen insight and subtle imagery, the poems offer a strong sense of each daughter’s personality as well as the tensions and ties they shared with their notable mothers. Writing with understated drama and quiet power, Atkins enables readers to understand these six women and their mother-daughter relationships in a nuanced and memorable way.”—Booklist, Starred Review

Click here to read an excerpt.

Thank you so much, Jeannine, for co-hosting today!
JEANNINE: I grew up loving books like Little House in the Big Woods and Little Women, and I’m still drawn to the past. I’ve been writing about history for a pretty long time, sometimes for picture books, such as Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon, or books for older readers, such as Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists. While I’d written poems in the privacy of my journals, I didn’t think much about polishing and publishing them because, well, finding homes for stories about overlooked girls and women seemed challenging enough. But after learning that Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, and Marie Curie were all born in 1867, I decided that spare image-based verse would be the best way to show the differences and connections between them. I trimmed narratives and shaved off words through draft after draft of Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie and Their Daughters.

As I researched, I discovered new things about people I admired, and the worlds they lived in, too. I learned facts about radium, most of which didn’t go into the poems. I had to figure out what radioactivity does, then succinctly put it into words that readers without a solid science background (like me) might understand. But beyond technical questions, I also pursued the kind of things I want to know about friends just because I’m nosy or should we say curious? I wanted to know what the people I wrote about liked to eat, and what they liked to wear, and if they had pets and favorite colors. After often wading through abstractions, I tended to take note of any words that evoked one or more of the senses. Sometimes a color or simple object, such as a bread plate, rake, or butterfly net, gave me an opportunity to hint at a pattern.

I feel grateful that my labor of love found a home at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. I understand that just as writing poetry felt risky to me, it will only be shepherded into the world by a brave editor and a publishing house willing to take a chance. Poetry gave me a way to work with facts and still let myself be surprised. I tried to show common places where readers could find sturdy bridges to lives different from their own. I hope readers will meet people who seem both wonderfully new and vividly familiar. And I hope those of you who are writing poetry won’t ever lose faith in the power of small words and the pauses between them.

Amherst Books will be celebrating the BORROWED NAMES book launch party on Tuesday, April 27th at 5:00pm. If you live nearby, please admire Jeannine's new book and say hello!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thinking about Friendships, Cliques and Self-Esteem

Thank you to the wonderfully brave people who entered for a chance to win a special book gift pack:
I put all the names into a bowl...and the winner is...Calliope! Please send me your snail mail address to hipwritermama @ comcast dot net. Congratulations!

In light of the topic of friendships and cliques, I wanted to share a post I wrote on May 25, 2007. There were so many incredible comments and tips from the original post.

I hope this helps open up a discussion of sorts, one you can share with your friends, your children, with your school. Wishing you a day full of hope.
It's tough being a girl in today's world. Personally, I believe girls deal with so much pressure at a young age. The pressure to be smart. To be strong. To be capable. To be athletic. To be beautiful. To be thin. To be Everything.

Now my husband thinks I'm a bit too outspoken on certain matters, so I don't want everyone jumping down my throat with this post. I'm just interested in a discussion, in an exchange of ideas, because I'm quite curious for the sake of research on what people think.

I'm just worried about today's girls. How are they going to handle the pressure to Be Everything? I'm not sure whether all this pressure to succeed is a result of the women's movement and the fight to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which incidentally is still not an official part of the U.S. Constitution. Or maybe it's a result of a technologically advanced world and the incredible opportunities just waiting to be embraced. Or maybe, it's just the way of the world and I just need to learn to deal with it.

Some women might remember the famous television commercial of the early 1980's with a beautifully coiffed and dressed woman who does it all -- takes care of baby, has a great job, cleans, cooks and more -- "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan. And never let you forget you're a man, cause I'm a woman..."

Of course the message of this commercial was quite clear to my college friends and I. While our moms had to make choices of whether they stayed at home with the kids or had an incredibly successful career, my generation would be able to have it all. Oh yes. This commercial promised us we could have it all, quite effortlessly, mind you. All because countless amazing women had paved the way for us to have it all. So we better go for it baby, because women have fought for our rights. And we better do them proud.

Numerous women of my generation have proved that women can accomplish so much and be so much more than any of our mothers have dared to dream. We can survive, with or without a man. We can live our own dreams without waiting for Mr. Right. We don't need to be married to have children. We don't have to get married right out of college. We're not considered hopeless spinsters if we're still single in our 40's. We don't have to have children if we don't want to.

Women run businesses and run for political office. Women can be plumbers or electricians. Astronauts. Professors. Policewomen. Doctors. Surgeons. Principals. Mechanics. There are so many capable women who are intelligent, brave, courageous--simply amazing. We are survivors. We are women. Hear us roar.

Sure there are sacrifices and lots of angst. But the achievements have been extraordinary. And this is the incredible gift my generation gives to the next generation. The ability to know they are capable of and deserve so much more. We paved the way so the next generation of girls could have it easier. Forget the sacrifice. Forget the struggles. We can do anything. We are women. Hear us roar.

But with this special gift comes a price. Some women are so competitive, they put down other women who don't have the same edge. We have the Mommy Wars and the Best Career Wars. Instead of uniting, mentoring and helping each other, we women are so determined to prove we have the better life, so we end up attacking one another. Obviously this isn't true of every woman, but when it is noticed, it is plain disturbing. Sadly, this all rubs off on our daughters.

As a mother of young girls, I worry about my children's generation, who will soon wonder how they can dare compare or how they can achieve everything without losing a part of themselves. Girls are exhibiting unethical behavior, worried about their smarts and their beauty(podcast), and bullying one another. And this is all before the teenage escapism in weight control, plastic surgery, drugs and alcohol.

I worry about my generation and the expectations we have for our children. Because as we all know, there are parents who will take the expectations a bit too far. There are parents who will want their daughters to be friends only with the popular kids in school. Some parents want their girls to always be on the winning team. And there are the parents who constantly put pressure on their talented child because they want her to be the next superstar.

A number of girls in my town (boys too for that matter) are overscheduled with activities, starting in kindergarten or first grade. They are enrolled in sports teams, music and/or dance lessons and special tutoring classes too. Playdates need to arranged a couple weeks in advance. Some parents even keep their child behind a year in kindergarten for the sole purpose of giving them an edge the next school year over the other children in the class. I find this plain disturbing.

Part of me is worried because I'm not exposing my children to all of these wonderful opportunities. Sure my kids are involved in activities, but I limit them to 2 activities rather than the typical 5-6 commitments, so they can have kid time. I want my kids to be kids for as long as possible, and enjoy life. Another part of me is trying to be understanding because most parents only want the best for their children and to give them what they didn't have a children. I am left to wonder whether all this overscheduling is part of what is causing the tantrums, the talking back, the bullying, and even the attitude of some of my childrens' friends. This gives me much sorrow.

I find it interesting how we now expect our girls to be stronger and tougher, while our boys are taught to express their feelings. Isn't it sad our girls are losing their ability to be empathetic and caring? Most girls feel imprisoned by all the expectations and pressure to surpass what women have already accomplished. Is it any wonder they feel the stress and the worry? How do we set them free so they can Be what they want to be? What can we do to ease the burdens of the next generation of exceptional girls, before we end up destroying the hope of our future?
Here are some things I'm working on for my children:
1. Children will learn from their parents. Practice what you preach.
2. Involve children in something they love--sports, music, reading, science, etc.--rather than something you want them to do.
3. Allow your child the ability to enjoy a hobby, even if it doesn't involve a competition or a medal.
4. Don't overschedule your children. Allow them to use their imagination and play. And let them have time to just be.
5. Be a good role model and find good role models for your child.
6. Spend some quality One-on-One time with your child. Let your child know it's safe to talk to you...about anything.

Here are some Reading Recommendations on Cliques, Friendships and Self-Esteem and More Books on Cliques, Friendships and Self-Esteem.

In case you'd like to read the incredible Comments and Tips from the original post, here they are.

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